SIOUX CITY | The number of people vying for an appointment to the Sioux City Council's vacant seat reached 14 Monday, the final day to hand in applications for the position.
The final roster of applicants includes four former council members -- Craig Berenstein, John Fitch, Jim Rixner and Jason Geary -- as well as residents Alex Watters, Jake Jungers, Doug Waples, Maria Rundquist, Amanda Beller, Jacob Bossman, Ken Johnson, Mary Worden-Fiedler, Tom Venesky and Carlos Venable-Ridley.
The position has been vacant since Jan. 3, when former councilman Keith Radig resigned to take his new seat on the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.
The City Council is currently interviewing each candidate during open-session meetings for the position, and plans to make its appointment during its Feb. 27 meeting.
Fitch, Watters, Rixner, Worden-Fiedler and Johnson went before the council during Monday's meeting to answer a slate of interview questions that included why they are running, what they hope to accomplish on the council and whether they would run if the position goes up for special election.
John Fitch, who served on the council from 2010 through 2013, told the council he believed he would be a steady, experienced hand who was already familiar with many of the council's current projects and would not require much catching up.
“If you choose me, I will be ready to go to work at the first meeting,” he said. “People don’t understand how much work you really do or how much of a learning curve you go through.”
Alex Watters, a first-year adviser at Morningside College, said while he does not have council experience, he could provide a new, youthful perspective and drive to attract young people.
"I think that we need to continue working to expand our tax base and attract and retain more young professionals," Watters said. "I think that's going to be the future of our community."
Jim Rixner, who served on the council from 2006 to 2010 and will retire as executive director of the Siouxland Mental Health Center this spring, told the council he has a record of commitment to the city's neighborhoods and of speaking up for the disabled.
“Anytime I’m involved in a decision-making process or engaged in discussion, I always ask what does it mean to all people in Sioux City?" he said.
Resident Mary Worden-Fiedler said she brings a background in accounting and a cooperative mindset to the position.
"I’m a strong, strong team player," she said. "I also do not believe in the answer no because I think you can always find a way."
Resident Ken Johnson said he wants to bring an eye for gaining consensus and focusing energy on the most strategic items that the city should look at.
"(I want to work toward) gaining consensus and trying to focus on those critical few, those important items strategically that the city should be looking at and putting energy toward," Johnson said.
Monday was the second week of interviews for the position. The final interviews will come during next week's meeting, the last City Council meeting prior to Feb. 27.